Maputo is the capital of Mozambique, located in a bay by the convergence of 4 rivers. Known as Lourenço Marques after the 16th century Portuguese explorer, it was founded as a trading post by the Portuguese. It became the capital in 1898 and was renamed to Maputo following independence in 1975.
Maputo is a pleasant seaside city lined with avenues. It has a dilapidated feel and faded colonial charm. It is the cultural and commercial centre of Mozambique, known for its eclectic architecture. It is not particularly dangerous, but like all African cities, it is better not to flash valuables in the street and to exercise caution at night.
Upon declaration of independence in 1975, the Portuguese were given 48hrs to vacate the city. Many trashed the place before leaving. However, many have now returned and are running upmarket restaurants and bars in the city.
Most of the attractions lie in Baixa or the downtown area of Maputo. These include the railway station, often making lists of the most beautiful stations in the world and the “iron house” designed by Gustav Eiffel. Renowned Portuguese architect, Pancho Guedes, also designed several unique buildings around the city (see photos below).
For a comprehensive tour of the city centre and an insight into the history of Mozambique, I recommend the Maputo Free Walking Tour.
A cool place to hang out is the Associação Núcleo de Arte, an artists’ collective and bar. You can see artists at work or share a joint with them. They have live music on Sundays. Another cool venue with art and regular cultural events is the Centro Cultural Franco-Moçambicano.